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Hanover girls advance to D-II semis

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 3/1/2019 10:04:50 PM
Modified: 3/1/2019 10:04:59 PM

HANOVER — Longtime Hanover High girls basketball coach Dan O’Rourke takes great pride in how this year’s Marauders share the workload. Ten players dress, nine usually see game time and all often have point tallies in the scorebook next to their names when the night is done.

They can play defense, too.

Four different Marauders scored in a game-opening 9-0 run, the hosts forced turnovers on Hollis Brookline’s first four possessions and top-ranked Hanover rolled to a 73-34 win over the eighth-seeded Cavs in an NHIAA Division II quarterfinal at Hanover High on Friday night.

The result ended the Cavaliers’ reign atop D-II and sent the Marauders (19-1 league, 20-2 overall) to a Tuesday semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University. Sure enough, all 10 Marauders got on the floor and nine scored, led by a season-high 16-point effort from freshman Melissa Whitmore.

Hanover got a scare in a narrow 42-36 first-round win over Kearsarge on Tuesday evening. Clearly, the message got through.

“The team had a chip on their shoulder,” O’Rourke said. “We learned a valuable lesson last Tuesday night that you can’t underestimate any team. … Tonight, the kids were ready and they were focused, and I thought it showed on the court.”

Hollis Brookline (14-6) looked discombobulated from the start, and for good reason. Starting forward Elizabeth Bonnette suffered a sprained ankle at a Thursday practice and didn’t play, robbing the Cavs of a key element of their team.

Not that Hanover gave the visitors much time to adjust. Julia Golder won the opening tap from HB’s Elizabeth Atkinson, leading to Bella Bardales’ opening jumper. A  Lois Schwarz hoop, a Golder bank shot, a Maddie McCorkle lay-up and a Bardales free throw gave the Marauders a 9-0 lead after barely 3 minutes.

The substitutes didn’t let up, either. Whitmore buried two 3-pointers in the final minute of the first period as O’Rourke tried to vocalize the words “one shot.” The latter trifecta cemented a 20-5 lead after an opening stanza in which the Cavaliers turned the basketball over nine times.

“It’s the way that the Hanover kids played tonight; I thought they were exceptional on both ends of the floor,” Hollis Brookline coach Bob Murphy said. “They’re fast. They beat you down the floor. And they’re fresh, because he subs so much. They don’t miss a beat when these other kids come in.”

The Cavs had limited offensive options without Bonnette. Senior center Atkinson played well in her final HB game, scoring 12 points with eight rebounds. Guard Christina Balsamo added 10 points, but Hollis sustained little against the Hanover defense.

Whitmore, among the four subs O’Rourke inserted midway through each quarter, added seven points in the second period as Hanover built a 35-13 halftime cushion. The turnover-fed theme carried into the second half, with a Hollis giveaway feeding a Diana Schwarz putback and kicking off a 7-2 Hanover run.

Diana Schwarz, Golder and McCorkle all scored nine points for the Marauders. Lois Schwarz netted eight. Even junior Johari Ajwang got in the act; the occasionally employed forward sank a soft jumper in the fourth that kicked running time into gear.

“I can’t really put the brakes on these kids,” he said.

“It’s the character of our team. It’s who we are. You can’t really slow down a thoroughbred.”    

Greg Fennell can be reached at or  603-727-3226.

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